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Abstract:

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Autocratic AI dystopias: From science fiction to social science fact
Martin Beraja, Andrew Kao, David Y. Yang and Noam Yuchtman December 2021
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Tags: technological change; china; ai; growth

The growth of artificial intelligence technology brings the potential of a 'fourth industrial revolution', but also poses challenges for democratic institutions. This column analyses the mutually reinforcing relationship between AI innovation and the political control objectives of autocrats. In the context of facial recognition AI in China, it shows that episodes of local political unrest lead to higher public procurement of AI technologies. Furthermore, these technologies are shown to mitigate the potential for exogenous shocks to trigger unrest, while also boosting broader software innovation in affected regions.